Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Christian Nation? The Constitution Would Suggest Otherwise

Watching Gordon Howie during his 4th place campaign for the GOP House slot we were again subjected to the far-right's assertion that American has drifted away from our "Christian founding/Christian heritage". We heard this from Sarah Palin during the Presidential campaign and continue to hear it from fungelicals even as they try to explain away their defeats in their attempts to win public office despite using that argument. Of course being one with no belief in a higher power, listening to these arguments makes me cringe while seeing them lose helps restore my faith in our sensibilities as a nation (of course Texas is an exception).

After hearing Howie and his followers continue this argument at their sparsely attended rallies even after being trounced, I thought I'd throw out my thoughts on the subject.

First let's put aside for this argument on whether we are a Christian nation the fact that the 11th article of Treaty Of Tripoli ratified by Congress and signed by President John Adams in 1797 specifically states that the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion. Secondly let's put aside the establishment clause for just a moment, though I will get back to it in a minute, which seemingly also contradicts the Christian nation claim when it states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". Let us also not mention the fact that the Constitution not once even mentions Christianity which makes one wonder what nation would be founded on a religious foundation and then not mention that foundation anywhere in their most important document?

For this discussion let us instead look at an argument that I rarely come across that concerns the 10 Commandments, you know those 2 tablets sent from God (Mel Brooks intimates that there were actually 15 until Moses dropped one of the tablets but that is from a different version of the history of the world) that contain the basis for much of the so-called Christian morality that Howie et al want our nation to get back to following. Considering the importance of those 10 do's and do not's to the faithful especially back in the puritanical days of our nation's founding, one would have to really wonder why our founders would then turn around and pretty much make any attempt by the government to enforce 4 of those "laws from God" Unconstitutional?

For example:
'You shall have no other gods before Me.' - Violates the Free Exercise clause of the 1st amendment.
'You shall not make for yourself a graven image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.' - Also Violates the Free Exercise clause of the 1st amendment.
'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.' - Violates our freedom of speech guaranteed by the first amendment.
'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.' - Seems to spit in the face of the establishment clause which would prevent the government from establishing a specific day of religiosity.

Of course this is not proof of the intent of our founders but it is just some more food for thought to consider when the Sarah Palin/Gordon Howie wing of the Republican party trots out their "Christian nation" meme at the next Tea Party rally.

15 comments:

  1. Again Bob as my post alluded to, this wasn't written to use the Treaty of Tripoli to argue against the mistaken belief that the US is a "Christian nation" I only mentioned it to highlight one of the many arguments that can be made against that belief. The purpose of this and from what I can tell, something you barely addressed was to ask why our founders would draft a document that basically made the first 4 of the 10 commandments unconstitutional if in fact their intention was, as you believe, to create a Christian nation.

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  2. I brought you a banquet of information--even answered that question, and you still came away hungry and unfed.

    Maybe if you read though the material I provided again, it'll come together. It's a lot to soak up, I know. I appreciate your consideration, though.

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  3. I don't think the founders wanted anyone's imaginary friend passing laws dictating the morals of an entire nation.

    ReplyDelete
  4. [...] with my thoughts on wingnut talking points from yesterday I’d thought I ask about a real common one that we hear all the time from fungelicals in our [...]

    ReplyDelete
  5. "You see, as the First Amendment makes clear, the US does not have a state church or state religion; they are, in fact, prohibited."

    Exactly Bob. Which is why this country is not a Christian country. Kind of end of story right there, isn't it? Now, you may make claims at length that the founding fathers used selective Biblical morality to frame the democracry and bla bla bla, and you'd be partly right. But that certainly doesn't make the United States (all 50, not just the original 13) in 2010 a "Christian Nation". Though there are far more Christians residing in the country now than there were then, (though I couldn't tell you what the % was then) we are still a secular nation, in which the majority of the populous is Christian. Big whoop.

    But let's also not forget another infamous John Adams quote:
    "The form of governments of the ancient Germans and the modern Indians; in both, the existence of the three divisions of power is marked with a precision that excludes all controversy. The democratical branch, especially, is so determined, that the real sovereignty resided in the body of the people, and was exercised in the assembly of king, nobles, and commons together."

    It took more than just the New Testament to frame the living democracy we have in place now.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Adam, apparently you didn't read what I wrote any more closely than the author of this piece did.

    If you have even the slightest information in knowing the facts and understanding the truth, I suggest you go back and read it again; maybe even a third time, if it takes it. I'd also suggest reading "Democracy in America" as I suggested previously. To the open mind, it goes a long, long way in explaining and expounding on what I said.

    Of course, if you're happy in revisionist ignorance, don't bother. But I hope that somewhere in you there is a genuine curiosity to know the truth, and that this curiosity will win out.

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  7. Bob just made me LOL! I think he's implying that he, unlike others here, has an open mind.

    I passed by 90.1 FM (American Family Radio) near Sioux Falls today to hear some wonderful hatred and bigotry being spewed at the president and homosexuals by loving christians.

    Maybe we should all agree that the United States is a christian nation and then work together to do everything we can to change that.

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  8. "Maybe we should all agree that the United States is a christian nation and then work together to do everything we can to change that."

    That would at least be some refreshing honesty from the Left. Even I could could respect that on some level.

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  9. "revisionist ignorance"

    Oooh! do tell!

    I have yet to hear one shred of evidence that would define this country as a Christian country. We have no state religion. We are a secularly governed nation, regardless of the origin (Christian or not) of those laws.

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  10. I explained all this above, Adam. If you're still having trouble understanding, please read the material at some of the links I provided. But you'll never be able to "hear one shred of evidence" as long as your mental ears are shut to something you're unwilling to hear, so opening them would be the place to start.

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  11. And I also do not think think the founders wanted anyone’s imaginary friend passing laws dictating the morals of an entire nation.

    ReplyDelete
  12. And I also do not think think the founders wanted anyone’s imaginary friend passing laws dictating the morals of an entire nation.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "revisionist ignorance"

    Oooh! do tell!

    I have yet to hear one shred of evidence that would define this country as a Christian country. We have no state religion. We are a secularly governed nation, regardless of the origin (Christian or not) of those laws.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Again Bob as my post alluded to, this wasn't written to use the Treaty of Tripoli to argue against the mistaken belief that the US is a "Christian nation" I only mentioned it to highlight one of the many arguments that can be made against that belief. The purpose of this and from what I can tell, something you barely addressed was to ask why our founders would draft a document that basically made the first 4 of the 10 commandments unconstitutional if in fact their intention was, as you believe, to create a Christian nation.

    ReplyDelete
  15. "You see, as the First Amendment makes clear, the US does not have a state church or state religion; they are, in fact, prohibited."

    Exactly Bob. Which is why this country is not a Christian country. Kind of end of story right there, isn't it? Now, you may make claims at length that the founding fathers used selective Biblical morality to frame the democracry and bla bla bla, and you'd be partly right. But that certainly doesn't make the United States (all 50, not just the original 13) in 2010 a "Christian Nation". Though there are far more Christians residing in the country now than there were then, (though I couldn't tell you what the % was then) we are still a secular nation, in which the majority of the populous is Christian. Big whoop.

    But let's also not forget another infamous John Adams quote:
    "The form of governments of the ancient Germans and the modern Indians; in both, the existence of the three divisions of power is marked with a precision that excludes all controversy. The democratical branch, especially, is so determined, that the real sovereignty resided in the body of the people, and was exercised in the assembly of king, nobles, and commons together."

    It took more than just the New Testament to frame the living democracy we have in place now.

    ReplyDelete

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